The untold story of Octavius Catto and the first civil rights movement in America

Join Us on March 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm at Addleston Library, Room 227 for this exciting lecture and book signing.

He shared stages with Frederick Douglass and recruited black men for Lincoln’s armies. He played for a pioneering black baseball team, taught at a renowned Philadelphia black school, and fought for equality in the state house and the streets. His name was Octavius Catto, and he and his allies—men and women, black and white—waged their battles for civil rights a century before Birmingham and Selma.

Like the Freedom Riders of the modern civil rights movement, they braved the wrath of white policemen, politicians, mobs and murderers. Catto’s life was cut short at the moment when, as W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, African Americans “were first tasting freedom.”

In Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America (Publication Date: September 22, 2010), Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin chronicle the life and times of this charismatic leader in a movement of preachers, teachers, Underground Railroad agents and former slaves. Their white supporters ranged from pacifist Lucretia Mott to murderous John Brown.

Catto’s “band of brothers,” as they called themselves, anticipated Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr. by nearly a century. They sat down in whites-only streetcars, challenged baseball’s color line and marched through a rain of eggs, epithets, brickbats and bullets to proclaim their right to vote. The story of their struggle to change America will change readers’ understanding of America’s racial history.

Daniel R. Biddle, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pennsylvania editor, has worked in nearly every phase of newspaper reporting and editing. His investigative stories on the courts won a Pulitzer Prize and other national awards. He has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania. Murray Dubin, author of South Philadelphia: Mummers, Memories and the Melrose Diner, was a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer for 34 years before leaving the newspaper in 2005.

Faculty Seminar – Dr. Tim Coates

Forced labor by Europeans and the Prison of Luanda, Angola 1881-1932

Dr. Tim Coates, Dept. of History, College of Charleston
Friday, March 18, 2011
3:15 PM
Addlestone Library, Room 227
205 Calhoun Street, Charleston, S.C.

Timothy Coates is a Professor of History at the College of Charleston and formerly the Vasco da Gama Visiting Professor of Portuguese History at Brown University. He has conducted research in Portugal, India, and Macau on grants from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Fundacao Oriente, the Luso-American Development Foundation, and the American Institute of Indian Studies. Professor Coates organized two international conferences at the College of Charleston to celebrate the 500th anniversaries of Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India and Pedro Cabral in Brazil.

Public Lecture

Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark

Thursday February 17, 2011
6 PM
Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street
Katherine Mellen Charron, North Carolina State University

Freedom's TeacherCharron traces the life of Charleston’s legendary Civil Rights activist Septima Clark from her earliest years as a student, teacher, and community member in rural and urban South Carolina to her increasing radicalization as an activist following World War II, highlighting how Clark brought her life’s work to bear on the civil rights movement. Drawing on autobiographies and memoirs by fellow black educators, state educational records, papers from civil rights organizations, and oral histories, Charron argues that the schoolhouse served as an important institutional base for the movement. Using Clark’s life as a lens, Charron sheds valuable new light on Southern black women’s activism in national, state, and judicial politics, from the Progressive Era to the civil rights movement and beyond. This book won the 2010 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize from the Southern Association of Women Historians.

Public Lecture

The Market Preparation of Carolina Rice

Thursday January 27, 2011
6 PM
Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street
Dr. Richard Porcher, emeritus, The Citadel

Rice was introduced into South Carolina in 1685 and spread to Georgia and North Carolina. The industry ended in 1911. The production of Carolina rice for market reached its zenith in the antebellum period, made possible by the invention of advanced machines for threshing and milling. Richard Porcher will focus on how he and co-author William Robert Judd used artifacts from the field and archives to diagram how these machines were constructed and operated. Four sources of power were used to drive the threshing and milling machines: manual, animal, water and steam. The evolution of each of these power systems will be outlined.

Public Lecture

African Nations & Ethnic Identity in the Mina Coast & in Brazil: An Atlantic Comparative Approach

Thursday January 20, 2011
6 PM
Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Dr. Luis Nicolau Pares, a visiting professor from Universidade Federal da Bahia and National Humanities Center Fellow, will present his research on the origin of some African ethnic groups currently living in Brazil and the Americas, and draw similarities in their methods of worship and way of life. Luis Nicolau Parés has a Ph.D. in Afro-Brazilian Religion from the University of London.

Public Lecture

The Slave Body in the World of Southern Medicine

Thursday November 18, 2010
6 PM
Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Dr. Stephen Kenny, Lecturer, University of Liverpool, UK will discuss the development of professional medicine in the Old South, especially the role of slave patients and the uses of slave bodies in that process. This lecture is co-sponsored by Avery Research Center, CLAW, and the Waring Historical Library.

Lecture and Book Signing

Gullah Memories Behind God’s Back

Thursday November 4, 2010
7-8 PM
Addlestone Library, 205 Calhoun Street, room 227

Herb Frazier, a freelance writer based in Charleston, is the author of
Gullah Memories Behind God’s Back, which is published by the Evening
Post Publishing Company. The book, a collection of stories from black
and white residents of the Cainhoy, Wando and Huger communities and St.
Thomas and Daniel islands, is a compilation of accounts of the
experiences of Gullah people who struggled after Emancipation, through
the Depression and into the middle of the twentieth century to maintain
their African-based lifestyles in rural communities near Charleston.
This event is co-sponsored by the Addlestone Friends of the Library.

Wachovia Lecture

Wachovia Lecture: Dean Hall

Thursday October 14, 2010
7-9 PM
Johnson Center, Room 206, 28 George Street

Associates with Brockington and Associates, a cultural resource management company in Mt. Pleasant, will be giving a public lecture on recent work at Dean Hall Plantation in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Charlie Philips, senior historian, will present the history of Dean Hall Plantation. Andrew Agha, senior archaeologist, will discuss the recent excavations, which uncovered 127,000 artifacts, including 57,000 Colonoware sherds. Nichole Isenbarger, lab supervisor, will discuss the significance of the found artifacts and Colonoware. Analysis of these sherds has helped shed light on the folkways of the enslaved people at Dean Hall plantation.

Lecture and Book Signing

Lowcountry Time and Tide: The Fall of the South Carolina Rice Kingdom

Thursday September 30, 2010
7-9 PM
Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street

James H. Tuten, a lowcountry native and College of Charleston graduate, opens this study with an overview of the history of rice culture in South Carolina through the Reconstruction era and then focuses on the industry’s manifestations and decline from 1877 to 1930. Tuten offers a close study of changes in agricultural techniques and tools during the period and demonstrates how adaptive and progressive rice planters became despite their conservative reputations. He also explores the cultural history of rice both as a foodway and a symbol of wealth in the lowcountry, used on currency and bedposts. Tuten concludes with a thorough treatment of the lasting legacy of rice culture, especially in terms of the environment, the continuation of rice foodways and iconography, and the role of rice and rice plantations in the modern tourism industry.